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Musings From Abroad

UK/Rwanda migrant deal suffers setback after new parliamentary defeats

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The proposed bill which seeks to legalize the deportation of refugees to Rwanda by the British government might be delayed till next month after the upper house of parliament defeated the government and reinstated demands for greater protections.

Though court hurdles have so far prevented anyone from being transported to the East African nation, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has remained enthusiastic about the controversial measure with intentions to move thousands of asylum seekers who come to Britain each year on small, inflatable boats to live in Rwanda.

With the next election approaching and his Conservative Party badly behind in the polls, Sunak thinks the deportation planes will turn around the party’s fortunes. On Wednesday, the unelected members of the House of Lords—who are primarily composed of former government officials and politicians—voted once more to change the law to include additional protections for asylum seekers’ rights.

The Lords approved modifications mandating that ministers give “due regard to domestic and international law” and stating that Rwanda could only be deemed safe once a treaty with Britain was put into effect. The suggestion is that the bill will be returned to the House of Commons in an attempt to establish a compromise via the “parliamentary ping-pong” procedure.

Due to the ensuing back and forth, it is unlikely that the bill will be passed into law until at least the middle of the next month when parliament reconvenes after its Easter recess.

The agenda suffered a similar fate last year when a British higher court declared that the strategy was illegal due to the possibility that individuals sent there would be returned to their home countries, endangering their safety. To prevent such court challenges, the government is seeking to pass a statute designating Rwanda as a haven for asylum seekers and excluding certain provisions of human rights legislation.

Illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East have grown to be a significant worry for Europe in recent years. As of June 2023, a record 45,000 persons had flown in small boats across the English Channel.

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Musings From Abroad

55 million people facing severe hunger in West and Central Africa— UN

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A food crisis has been made worse by rising prices in West and Central Africa. In the next few months, nearly 55 million people will have trouble feeding themselves, according to a warning from the United Nations relief groups on Friday.

The groups said that the number of people going hungry during the June–August lean season had quadrupled in the last five years. They further claimed that economic problems like double-digit inflation and stagnant local production were major causes of the crisis, along with ongoing battles in the region.

A joint statement from the World Food Program, UNICEF, and the Food and Agriculture Organization said that Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali are among the countries most severely affected. In the north of these countries, about 2,600 people are expected to die of extreme hunger.

“The time to act is now. We need all partners to step up … to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s acting regional director for West Africa.

Malnutrition is very high because of a lack of food, according to the agencies. They say that 16.7 million children under five years old are severely malnourished across West and Central Africa.

Food supplies have made things harder, especially for countries like Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone which are already dealing with high inflation.

“To respond to the unprecedented food and nutrition insecurity,” said Robert Guei, the FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, policies should be put in place to increase and diversify local food production.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia begins diesel exports to Sudan as EU boycott bites

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London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data shows that Russia has started sending fuel to troubled North African country, Sudan.

The sales begin amid new demand for Russia’s refined goods following a trade boycott against it by the EU over the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Since February 2023 when the EU put a full ban on importing Russian oil products, diesel has been sent to Brazil, Turkey, and countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It has also been loaded from ship to ship.

Data from LSEG shows that two fuel ships, the Pavo Rock and the Conga, brought about 70,000 metric tons of ultra-low sulphur diesel to Sudan after loading it in February at Primorsk in the Baltic Sea. Shipping records show that the goods were unloaded at Port Sudan Al Khair Terminal on April 2 and April 5, respectively.

The Marabella Sun, a ship that was loaded in March at the Russian Baltic port of Vysotsk, is now on its way to Port Sudan and should be unloaded on April 17.

A source quoted by Reuters claims Sudan needs about 45,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6,000 tons per day, of diesel to meet local demand. However, Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry did not answer a request for comment.

About 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons of diesel are brought into Sudan every month, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to the LSEG, about 116,000 metric tons of diesel came into Sudan in March.

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